Whole30 Reset done, but cardio still suffers


JeanStone

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I finished my Whole 30 a week ago and am halfway through the reintroduction process. Much of my experience has been positive: better sleep, more even energy levels, sugar cravings are gone, and I'm loving the food. My only disappointment is that cardiovascular exercise is still very hard. I do a couple of HIIT sessions a week with the battling ropes, two relatively short runs (one is lactate threshold intervals), and two hour long swims. Up until today only the HIIT and running still felt bad. I can scarcely get my HR up to 85% - most often my legs tire at about 75 percent. The swims have been good in the past, but today I ran out of gas at 45 minutes and had to stop. I am 63 years old and in good physical condition. My RHR before Whole30 was 42-43 bpm, and its dropped by 1-2 beats a minute. I have been 100% compliant while on the program and have been eating squash, potatoes, root veggies, and a couple of servings of fruit daily. I can't figure out why my cardio still feels bad. I am not generally hungry between meals. Any suggestions or thoughts on this would be appreciated, 'cause I would really like to start looking forward to my runs again.

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You really should be fat adapted by now, so I'd wonder if you haven't been eating too much in the way of starches & sugars so that your body is still reliant on them. 

Could you list a few days worth of typical meals, indicating portion sizes, specific veg types, etc along with activity levels, pre & postWO meals, and liquid intake? That way we'd be better equipped to help you troubleshoot...

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I will do that, but it may take me a day or so. I generally don't weigh or measure anything, so I will estimate as best I can. I have been keeping a diary so I can use that. With regard to the pre-and post WO meals, I will say that I generally don't eat anything before a workout, and the only time I eat afterwards is after my hour long swim practices. At those times, I have 1/2 of an RX bar within 15 minutes of getting out of the pool.

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As requested here is a log of my meals and workouts for three days. Measurements are approximate as I usually don't weigh/measure.

Day 21

Breakfast: Scrambler (3 eggs, 2 oz ground turkey, 1/3 apple, 1/3 C sweet potato, onion), 1/4 avocado, nectarine, green tea

Workout: 1-1/4 hour of mobility exercises, core strength training, and yoga at home, 20 min of Lower body strength training at the gym

11:30 - 12:30 p.m. 1 hour swim workout (felt fine during this) 2,100 meters

2:30 p.m. Tuna salad (1/2 can tuna, mayo, celery) over greens, with approx 1-1/2 C fresh veg (tomatoes, peppers, carrots), and 1 C roasted squash.  Balsamic vinaigrette dressing

7:20 pm Dinner: 1 baked chicken thigh, 1 c roasted potatoes with rosemary, Napa cabbage sautéed with onions, mushrooms, and bacon.

Day 22: 

Breakfast: Scrambler (3 eggs, 2 oz ground turkey, 1/3 apple, 1/3 C sweet potato, onion), 1/4 avocado, plum, black tea

45 minutes of upper body strength training, plus 12 min of HIIT (battling ropes) at gym. Drank coffee before workout - did not improve energy level during HIIT: max HR was 143, avg 127 ppm.

90 minute Hatha yoga class.

12:30 - handful of nuts (lunch will be later than planned)

2:35 p.m. Lunch: Chicken thigh over greens, misc raw veggies (1-1/2 C) plus, 1C roasted squash. Ranch dressing: 2 tb

7:15 p.m Dinner: Pasta sauce (Whole 30) 1-1/2C with ground beef (approx 4 oz) over spaghetti squash.

Day 23:

7:50 a.m. Breakfast: Scrambler (2 eggs, sautéed onion, mushrooms, peppers, and celery, 1/3 C squash), 1/4 avocado, plum, black tea

Workout: 1-1/4 hour of mobility exercises, core strength training, and yoga at home

Lunch: 1:40 p.m. Salad w/1 chicken thigh, 1-1/2 C raw and cooked vegetables, plus 1 C roasted squash. Ranch dressing: 2 TB

5:30 p.m. Handful of nuts (tried a pre-workout snack b/c legs feel tired)

Wow: 36 minute strong run and legs felt great after the first 3-4 minutes of sluggishness. Energy level good, run was brisk.

7:25 p.m. Chicken sausage (2 links) and sautéed peppers, onions in marinara sauce (1-1/2 C?) over cauliflower "rice" - approx 1 C

 

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Yeah, you look to be eating a lot of starchy veg - so much so that you may well be topping up sugar levels so much that your body hasn't become properly fat adapted and you're finding yourself hitting a wall. You're also not eating any postWO protein so there is no protein muscle synthesis going on for the recovery & repair of your muscles - and you're doing a lot of training to neglect this. If I was going to pick between pre or postWO fuel I'd pick post, every single time. When fat adapted your body really should be able to tap into fat stores provided earlier in the day for fuel - I mean when you eat protein/fat before a work out it's not actually hitting the blood stream as fuel until around an hour later...

I'd cut back the starch to just one meal per day (meal 2 or 3). If you're going to do a long run on say a Monday, then make sure you have a generous serving of starch on the Sunday night. The sugar will be gone from your blood stream by Monday, but your muscle glycogen stores will be full for your run. Then when the run is done have some lean protein to help your legs recover, along with some starchy veg to replenish the muscle glycogen stores.

Do you have rest/recovery days scheduled into your week?

 

 

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Thanks for taking the time to look into this for me. If I read your reply correctly, I should eat only protein, fat, and non-starchy vegetables for two of my three meals. I should have some protein and a bit of starchy veg post WO. On this regimen, how long should it take me to get fat adapted?

I do take one day off per week. On that day I do a bit of yoga, a set of daily range of motion exercises, and walking.

I am getting a bit concerned about my weight. I did not intend to lose much weight during my Whole30 reset. I started at 125 lbs, and I lost 6 lbs in the 30 days. After the first ten days of reintroduction, I've lost another pound. 118 lbs is pretty low for a 5 ft 5-1/2 inch female, even at 63 years of age. Your thoughts?

 

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Yes, protein, fat & then fill the rest of your plate with non starchy veg at two of your three meals. How long it will take to become fat adapted is a very personal thng & depends on how your body is running now. I came to Whole30 from a long term strict Paleo diet and it took me around 14 days - since you've already been eating Whole30 for a month or so and this is only a tweak I'm guessing it should take a little less than that.

As for the weight loss I'd say that once you add in some postWO protein things should improve, and with your activity levels you should definitely be eating towards the high end of the template, remembering that the template is an absolute minimum and it's okay to eat more - so go for x2 palms of protein, at least 3 cups of veg (just FILL the plate & don't worry about measuring), and a generous serving of fat. You really need to fuel those training sessions.

What foods will you be including in your eating plan going forward?

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I really like the way I feel now, so I am planning to continue to eat largely Whole30. None of the foods I have reintroduced have given me problems, so I suspect that frequency was the issue.

I will include dairy in the form of cheese, plain yogurt, and milk since I have osteopenia and must watch my calcium intake carefully. Supplements alone were okay for the reset period, but I would prefer not to rely on them exclusively. I know that the book, It Starts With Food, holds that dairy isn't necessary for meeting calcium requirements, but until I see more conclusive research confirming this, I will follow my doctor's advice. My mother had osteoporosis and suffered terribly with it: I prefer to err on the side of caution.

Alcohol and desserts will be special occasion treats. I have a terrible sweet tooth, and before Whole30 I was having something sweet regularly. I do miss legumes, bread, and pasta so I will be incorporating them as part of meals where I would really miss them. For example, my husband makes terrific  steamed mussels and linguine with clams. I would indulge in bread for mopping up those delicious mussel juices and in a small serving of pasta for the clam sauce. The frequency would likely be once or twice a week.

Thank you so much for your interest and guidance. I really appreciate them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My recommended read for all lady athletes is the book  Roar, by Stacy Sims. It's an eye opener about the amount of protein us women need and has well researched and cited information on nutrition for each stage of life. So much information is about men's bodies and they ain't us.

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